Sunday, March 16, 2014

letter to Global Development Group lawyer, Billie Jean Slott, dated 16th March 2014

James Ricketson
316 Whale Beach Road
Palm Beach 2108
Sydney, Australia
Billie Jean Slott
Legal Advisor
Sciaroni and Associates No 24, Street 462
Sangkat, Tonle Bassac

16th  March 2014

Dear Billie Jean

It is now 17 days since I received your Feb 28th email.

Eternal optimist that I am, I held out hope that you might be genuinely interested in ‘the truth’ about how it was that Citipointe church acquired custody of Rosa and Chita in 2008. In my naivety I thought you might look at the facts, the evidence (a lawyers’ job, surely!) and realize that in July 2008, and particularly after 11th August 2008, Citipointe had no legal rights at all to be detaining Rosa and Chita contrary to the wishes of their parents.

I presumed, foolishly, that you would relay this information to the shocked and horrified Global Development Group Board that has been funding Citipointe’s ‘SHE Rescue Home’, at which point the board would respond in the only ethical way possible – to sever GDG’s ties with Citipointe church.

It is clear from the events of the past week that your job is not to seek and find the truth but to find whatever loopholes you can to justify or explain away the illegal removal of Rosa and Chita. And if that fails to use a corrupt judiciary to bring whatever pressure to bear on me that is necessary to prevent the truth from being made public. And the truth is this:

In July 2008, Citipointe church, with the blessing of the Global Development Group, illegally removed Rosa and Chita from their family.

You are now an integral part of (maybe even a necessary of driving part of) a conspiracy of silence surrounding the 2008 Memorandum of Understanding that Citipointe church claims to have entered into with the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. You must do whatever it takes to guarantee that this document never sees the light of day. And so, of course, must Citipointe church, the Global Development Group board, the Australian Council for International Development,  AusAID and the Department of Foreign Affairs. The release of this MOU would reveal the illegal nature of Citipointe’s removal, the complicity of GDG and the incompetence of senior personnel in AusAID and DFAT who, if they had been doing their job properly, would have exposed Citipointe’s scam years ago.

There is no 2008 MOU that gives Citipointe the right to remove children from their families without the parents’ consent. You will and must agree on this by now as you have read the MOU. But there is another MOU, isn’t there – one that you have seen a copy of but which Chanti and Chhork have been denied access to. This is the Nov 2009 MOU that Citipointe entered into with the Cambodian Ministry of Social Affairs.

I have not seen this document and know nothing of its contents. I have no idea what justification Citipointe was providing to MoSAVY for the continued detention of Rosa and Chita at a time when Chanti and Chhork had a home (a houseboat) and two income streams – these indisputable facts recorded by my camera in Nov 2009.

More importantly, nor do Chanti and Chhork have any idea of the contents of this MOU. They have no idea why MoSAVY thought, in Nov 2009, that their home was not a fit place for their children to live. They have no idea what, if any, their rights of appeal were/are regarding this decision made by MoSAVY. They had no idea  then, and have no idea now, what they needed to do to get their daughters back. The only certainties in their lives were that Citipointe kept (a) promising that their daughters would be returned soon and, when this did not happen over a period of years (b) that it was up to MsSAVY to decide when re-integration was possible or desirable. Given that no-one from MoSAVY ever visited Chanti and Chhork to see how they were faring, Citipointe could continue with its scam for as long as it liked. And it has – for close on 6 years now.

My question for you, Billie Jean, is both a legal and an ethical one:

“Between 11th August 2008 and Nov 2009 -  a period of 16 months – did Citipointe church have a legal right to be detaining Rosa and Chita against the express wishes of their parents, Chanti and Chhork?”

I am not a lawyer, but I am also not a fool. Clearly Citipointe had no such right between 31st July 2008 and Nov 2009. The Cambodian law that should have applied to Citipointe’s actions at that time is Article 8 Cambodia’s ‘Law on Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation’.

Article 8:Definition of Unlawful Removal

The act of unlawful removal in this act shall mean to:
1)      Remove a person from his/her current place of residence to a place under the actor’s or a third persons control by means of force, threat, deception, abuse of power or enticement, or
2)      Without legal authority or any other legal justification to do so to take a minor person under general custody or curatoship or legal custody away from the legal custody of the parents, care taker or guardian.

You know, as a lawyer, that the means whereby Citipointe  got Chanti to put her thumb print on the fraudulent 31st. July 2008 ‘contract’ in order to remove Rosa and Chita involved “deception, abuse of power or enticement.” One element of this deception involved telling Chanti that it was LICADHO she was entering into an agreement with. Chanti knew of LICADHO and had no reason to distrust what she knew to be a human rights organization.

You know, as a lawyer, that Article 9 of Cambodia’s ‘Law on Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation’ is quite clear as to what the punishment for deception, abuse of power or enticement”  is:

Article 9: Unlawful removal, inter alia, of Minor

A person who unlawfully removes a minor or a person under general custody or curatorship or legal custody shall be punished with imprisonment for 2 to 5 years.

If the Cambodian courts were administering Cambodian law (as opposed to NGO law) Pastor Leigh Ramsey, Rebecca Brewer and Helen Shields would be in court and facing possible 2 – 5 year jail sentences of ‘unlawful removal’. They will not be. It will be me who is in court facing the accusation that I have blackmailed Citipointe by threatening to make public the illegality of the church’s actions. And you are now part and parcel of this use of a corrupt Cambodian judiciary to prevent the truth about Citipointe from emerging.

Given that the Global Development Group is implicated in this unlawful removal it is now imperative that the GDG board find some way of spinning GDG’s complicity in this crime in such a way as to shut me up, shut me down, do whatever it takes to discredit me. And so, enter Billie Jean Slott. “”Billie Jean, what can we do?” I can hear the GDG board asking. Well, one thing that can be done is to charge me with attempting to blackmail Citipointe, make sure that no summons or warrant is served on me, make sure that I am not appraised of the contents and that I am not in the country and hope that my non-appearance in court will be viewed as either an admission of guilt or as contempt of court. Then, just as this legal farce has been arranged by Citipointe and GDG, it is likewise easy to arrange whatever sentence you might think appropriate to shut me up, to shut me down.

There are at least two possible outcomes on 2nd April. One is a custodial sentence for myself. This would not really suit GDG’s purposes, however, as it would draw attention to the criminality of Citipointe church’s actions in a way that Global Development Group desperately wants to be kept from public view. Stealing the brown-skinned children of materially poor Cambodians is one thing; arranging for the arrest and jailing of a white Anglo-Saxon Australia is something quite different. Questions would be asked.

The other alternative is for Citipointe/GDG to arrange with the Cambodian judge to have the matter quietly dropped. This would result in the media having no further interest in Citipointe’s criminality and probably only writing a small story, buried deep in newspapers. The caravan would move on and it would be back to business as usual for Citipointe and GDG.

If I were advising Citipointe /GDG I would be suggesting this latter option. The only danger inherent in it is that there may be a journalist who smells a rat and continues to ask Citipointe/GDG to produce the MOU from 2008. Your job then, I guess, would be to find ways of not producing the document – wearing the intrepid journalist down until s/he gives up. Your mission accomplished, the Global Development Group could then dispense with your services until such time as another filmmaker/journalist starts to ask difficult questions and needs to be shut down.

My hopes that you might be a lawyer with integrity have been dashed, Billie Jean. You have certainly found the right country to be practicing in!

best wishes

James Ricketson

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